In light of recent cyberattacks in healthcare, organizations within and adjacent to healthcare must utilize robust types of cybersecurity solutions to mitigate data breaches. Protected health information (PHI) is a highly sensitive class of data that must be secured by proactive and reactive cybersecurity solutions to safeguard its sensitivity and privacy. Read on to learn more.
Types of Cybersecurity Solutions for Healthcare
The best types of cybersecurity solutions are those that secure sensitive digital assets before, during, and after a cyberattack. For organizations within and adjacent to healthcare to effectively prepare for potential cyberattacks, they must implement:
- Proactive cybersecurity solutions to protect against cyberattacks
- Reactive cybersecurity solutions to respond to cyberattacks
When healthcare organizations implement robust types of cybersecurity solutions, they are better prepared to handle cyberattacks and minimize the impact of the attacks.
To achieve a high ROI with the best types of cybersecurity solutions you choose, it helps to work with a managed security services provider (MSSP) who can optimize security implementation, ensuring your sensitive patient data is protected at all times.
Proactive Types of Cybersecurity Solutions
It is much simpler to safeguard sensitive data using proactive types of cybersecurity solutions because they preemptively address gaps and vulnerabilities that could otherwise be exploited by cybercriminals. There are several types of proactive types of cybersecurity solutions that will help strengthen your organization’s security posture and safeguard sensitive patient data.
Compliance with the Health Insurance and Portability Accountability Act of 1996 is required for all organizations that handle protected health information (PHI) within or adjacent to healthcare.
HIPAA classifies PHI as any information processed by organizations called covered entities:
- Health plans, which pay for the costs of healthcare delivery (e.g., private- and government-sponsored insurers)
- Healthcare providers, which offer healthcare services requiring PHI transactions (e.g., hospitals and other healthcare institutions)
- Healthcare clearinghouses, which convert PHI from non-standard forms to standardized ones (e.g., billing service providers, repricing companies)
Business associates of covered entities may also need to comply if they come into contact with PHI directly or indirectly. Such compliance is obligated in HIPAA business associate contracts.
Compliance with HIPAA requires installing and maintaining proactive controls associated with the four main HIPAA Rules to help organizations safeguard the privacy and sensitivity of PHI:
- Privacy Rule – The Privacy Rule establishes PHI as a type of sensitive information and outlines conditions—permitted uses and disclosures—to mitigate unauthorized exposure of PHI at all stages of healthcare delivery, including:
- Treatment of patients
- Billing of medical services
- Transmitting insurance claims
- Enrolling patients in clinical studies
- Security Rule – For organizations that use technology to perform healthcare transactions, compliance with the Security Rule guides the best practices necessary to secure transactions involving electronic PHI (ePHI) via three types of safeguards, including:
- Administrative safeguards to help implement secure practices for all PHI transactions across your organization (e.g., security management, employee cybersecurity training)
- Physical safeguards to secure physical locations of ePHI (e.g., facilities housing servers hosting ePHI storage)
- Technical safeguards to implement secure processes for accessing systems containing ePHI (e.g., cryptographic access controls, integrity controls)
- Breach Notification Rule – Per the Breach Notification Rule, healthcare organizations must notify the following parties when a breach to PHI occurs:
- Affected individuals (different requirements, depending on the number of individuals)
- Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Beyond these prescriptive Rules, the Enforcement Rule defines potential penalties for HIPAA non-compliance, overseen by the Secretary of HHS, The Office of Civil Rights (OCR), and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The most effective way to optimize HIPAA compliance is to work with a HIPAA compliance partner who can advise on the best practices for achieving and maintaining HIPAA compliance—including the types of cybersecurity tools to optimize it.
Although HIPAA compliance helps healthcare organizations secure PHI, HITRUST goes a step further in providing comprehensive, risk-based safeguards for PHI. Regardless of the size or structure of a healthcare organization, compliance with HITRUST is one of the effective types of cybersecurity solutions to secure sensitive patient data. The HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF) is a broad framework comprising over 150 controls aimed at helping organizations within and beyond healthcare optimize their security posture.
Compliance with HITRUST CSF requires healthcare organizations to assess the maturity of the security controls they implement, based on HITUST CSF Maturity Levels, including:
- Policy – Organizations must ensure that the security policies in place support the implementation of secure transactions involving sensitive data such as PHI.
- Procedure – Organizations must implement procedures that effectively achieve the requirements stipulated in security policies.
- Implemented – Any operationalized security controls should perform as stipulated in a security policy and up to HITRUST CSF standards.
- Measured – The implementation of security controls must be periodically assessed to ensure streamlined compliance with the HITRUST CSF requirements.
- Managed – Organizations must address any gaps or vulnerabilities in compliance with HITRUST CSF, ensuring timely and appropriate remediation.
Organizations looking to achieve HITRUST CSF compliance and certification are required to evaluate the maturity of their security controls via self-assessments and validated assessments.
With the help of various types of cybersecurity tools from the HITRUST Alliance—such as the MyCSF Tool—organizations within and adjacent to healthcare can optimize HITRUST CSF compliance and secure sensitive patient data at all times. And, as with HIPAA compliance, working with a HITRUST CSF compliance partner will help your organization streamline aspects of HITRUST CSF compliance and achieve an optimized security posture.
For organizations looking to routinely test their cybersecurity systems and processes, routine penetration testing serves as one of the best types of cybersecurity tools. Pen testing involves a team of security testers attempting to “ethically hack” your cybersecurity infrastructure to identify cybersecurity gaps and vulnerabilities and prevent a real attacker from exploiting them later.
Penetration testing is an effective exercise for healthcare organizations looking to:
- Implement new systems, networks, or hardware for processing PHI
- Optimize existing security systems to match HIPAA-compliant standards
- Establish partnerships with third-party vendors that involve sharing of systems used to process PHI
There are three ways organizations typically conduct penetration testing:
- External penetration testing with the help of outsourced teams of testers
- Internal penetration testing, using internal security testers
- Hybrid penetration testing, leveraging both internal and external testing expertise
Penetration testing can also help safeguard multiple assets in your IT infrastructure, including:
- Cloud computing assets
- Web applications
- Mobile devices
As one of the best types of cybersecurity solutions, penetration testing will help you secure transactions involving PHI and build assurance in your organization’s security posture.
Identity and Access Management
Internal threats to PHI are increasingly common in healthcare organizations and can result in data breaches if not carefully managed. Some of the best types of cybersecurity solutions for managing internal threats to PHI are identity and access management (IAM) systems.
An IAM will help a healthcare organization mitigate threats to PHI by:
- Designating clear access-based roles to minimize unauthorized access to sensitive data environments
- Creating systems to efficiently manage access privileges across your organization
- Building robust enterprise-level security that can adapt to imminent threats
- Streamlining the optimization of access controls for each digital asset
- Segmenting access controls based on users, asset types, or departments
- Securing an entire suite of digital assets, including:
- Cloud architecture
Identity and access management is also one of the best types of cybersecurity tools for increasing visibility into which systems are more prone to cyberattacks and will help strengthen your broader cyber defenses against internal and external threats.
Security Awareness Training
Even after deploying the best types of cybersecurity solutions, healthcare organizations must train personnel on which best practices can mitigate cyberattacks. Your cyberdefenses are only as strong as the security awareness across your organization.
Building a robust pipeline for security awareness training will help mitigate:
- Social engineering attacks, including:
- Phishing, where attackers pretext your employees to divulge sensitive information via email
- Waterholing, where attackers will obtain sensitive information from employees on fake websites
- Tailgating, where cybercriminals will find ways to gain unauthorized access to a building or environment containing sensitive data
- Non-compliance violations of the HIPAA Privacy Rule’s permitted uses and disclosures (see above)
- Errors from lack of cyber vigilance and negligence regarding password use policies
Working with an experienced security awareness training partner will help you achieve a high ROI on security awareness training and safeguard PHI from internal and external threat risks.
Reactive Types of Cybersecurity Solutions
While proactive types of cybersecurity solutions help mitigate cybersecurity threats to healthcare organizations, reactive ones enable organizations to effectively manage data breach incidents.
It’s impossible to prevent 100% of incidents; you need to be ready for those that do occur.
The goal of reactive types of cybersecurity solutions is to respond to incidents while learning which practices can mitigate future incidents. Reactive and proactive cybersecurity solutions should also work hand-in-hand for maximum effectiveness. There are several types of reactive cybersecurity solutions organizations can take advantage of to optimize their security posture.
When a data breach occurs, the immediate response for most organizations is to panic. However, incident management is one of the best types of cybersecurity solutions as it methodically addresses the data breach and prevents further damage.
Effective management of a breach incident to PHI requires:
- Identifying the breach using the most appropriate types of cybersecurity tools
- Auditing the affected system to capture all the events leading up to the breach
- Investigating the events leading up to the data breach to determine the root cause
- Allocating remediation and further root cause analysis tasks to the relevant teams
- Remediating the gaps and vulnerabilities exploited when the breach occurred
- Managing the satisfaction of customers and stakeholders affected by the breach
Data breaches typically have a significant impact on organizations and their stakeholders if not managed well. Beyond compliance, there are short- and long-term reputational damages.
Healthcare organizations must therefore deploy the most appropriate types of cybersecurity solutions to address data breaches and ensure full remediation of exploitable gaps in security.
Incident Scenario Planning
Although incident management addresses broader aspects of managing data breaches, it is critical for your employees to undergo rigorous training on breach incident scenarios.
Incident management can be optimized by planning out cyberattack scenarios via incident response tabletop exercises, which help healthcare organizations:
- Better understand threats to PHI
- Assess the preparedness to defend against cyberattacks
- Clearly define the roles and responsibilities during a data breach scenario
- Evaluate resource availability and develop a plan for resource allocation
- Improve decision-making capabilities in response to data breaches
By investing in incident response tabletop exercises, your organization will be better equipped to defend against malware threats, secure cloud infrastructure, and safeguard networks and systems containing sensitive data.
Threat and Vulnerability Management
Another type of cybersecurity solution to help healthcare organizations efficiently manage risks to PHI is threat and vulnerability management. A hallmark of effective threat and vulnerability management is the ability to utilize a cyberattacker’s perspective to develop threat intelligence.
Threat and vulnerability management covers a wide range of services, including:
- Management of assets to ensure prioritized protection of assets at high risk for cyberattacks
- Scanning of applications used to conduct transactions involving sensitive data
- Deployment and management of security patches
- Identification of assets at end-of-life cycles
- Evaluation of risks to cloud security infrastructure
Unlike incident management, threat and vulnerability management can be both proactive and reactive—helping to safeguard sensitive patient data before or during a cyberattack.
When making a decision about the cybersecurity investments in healthcare, it all comes down to which types of cybersecurity solutions will safeguard precious digital assets, mitigate data breaches, or help you manage breach incidents, should they occur.
Working with a qualified managed security services provider (MSSP) will help you identify the most relevant cybersecurity tools to meet your security needs.
Optimize Your Cybersecurity Solutions
For organizations within and adjacent to healthcare to best address the privacy and security of PHI, they must implement the best types of cybersecurity solutions available. RSI Security is an MSSP whose experience handling a wide range of cybersecurity tools and solutions will provide your organization with robust, industry-standard safeguards for PHI. To learn more about how to optimize your cyberdefense solutions and maximize security ROI, contact RSI Security today!